Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Story of Francesco Lentini's Photo

When scanning a photo collection of a relative I came across this picture. I had to, of course, immediately ask, "who in the world is this?" Although this relative didn't know who it was, he explained that his grandparents, who lived in a small town in Nebraska, occasionally housed circus performers who came through town.
So, of course you know I had to find out more about this picture so I started googling different phrases to see if I could find information about this person. I soon found his name, Francesco (Frank) Lentini.
Lentini was known as the Human Tripod, for obvious reasons. He was born in Sicily in the late 1800's. At age 9 years, he moved to the US and started his circus career with the Ringling Brothers. He also worked with Barnum and Bailey and Buffalo Bill. My guess is that this relative came across Frank when he worked with Buffalo Bill, since Buffalo Bill had a home in North Platte, Nebraska.
A website has a copy of Frank's life story, published in 1940 where you can read more about him and see some additional photos at He was married and had 4 children. According to Wikipedia he died in Florida at the age of 77.
What I found interesting about this find is two things. One is that we, our families, etc, have pictures of other people in our albums and other people have pictures of your family in their albums. It's just a matter of locating those pictures (ok, so it isn't easy). But it points to the fact that genealogical research requires you to research the neighbors and collateral relatives. That's where some of the information is.
Also-here's this everyday family living in Nebraska, who knew that they had a brush with someone who was well known during their time. Our ancestor's lives were interesting, we need to capture that along with the birth and death dates.
What interesting dinner conversations must have happened at this family's home...

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